Fiddle Me This -or- The 1974 Ridge Vineyards Fiddletown Zinfandel Unearthed!

I recently received a wonderful e-mail query about this wine from a gentleman who “discovered” two bottles of it in some cases he had bought many years before. As this is not a wine that comes across my bow too often, I was of course intrigued, and was fortunate to be able to speak with both Eric Baugher and Paul Draper on the matter. Both were very insightful, though neither had tasted the wine in some time. Paul was kind enough to pen some words for me, however, which I thought I’d share here:

“The 1974 & 1978 were the most exceptional of the zinfandels we produced from that vineyard in the Sierra Foothills.”

“The ’74 was still showing well at 20 years of age and now that we are at 35 years of age, though we have not tasted it in years, it may have faded – but one never knows with old zinfandels and it may still be an interesting wine to try.”

I’ve attached a scan of the label below (click on the image to see full-size):


Has anyone out there tasted this wine recently? I’d love to get some feedback!

Categories: History, Ridge Memorabilia, Vintage Wine Labels, Zinfandel

Tags: ,

11 replies

  1. Hi Folks!
    I tasted a 1974 Ridge Geyserville the other day. 25/20. Yup, it was that good. I now have a 1976 Ridge Fiddletown to try. Sadly, as I suspect most of you are in the US, you cannot join me – I am in England, 6000 miles away!
    Tom Wise

  2. Have to second what Tom said. The Ridge Amador Zins I’ve had (late ’70s to early ’80s) have been amazing and a unique expression. I’d love to see Ridge go back to making some.

  3. I have a 1976 Late Harvest II from Esola Ranch, wonder how it will show… I’ll hopefully open it sometime this year. Would love to share it, if anybody bother to come down to Sao Paulo, Brazil!

  4. I have unearthed a bottle of the 1978 Ridge Fiddletown Zinfandel from my cellar. Soon to be opened, I would like to know if there is someone who would like to come taste it along with me when I do? (~Boston, MA)

    Any comments on decanting, tasting, etc. are welcome.

    P.S. I also have just one last bottle of the 1978 Zinfandel “essence” (not), Late Harvest Residual sugar 10.5%. The bottle reads “the fifth essence (stricken) of ancient and medieval philosophy, supposed to be the substance of which the heavenly bodies were composed, and . . . the extraction of it . . . being one of the great objects of alchemy.” PD (5/79)

    This inscription has always intrigued me greatly.

    JP Westford, MA

    • Wow, what an amazing comment! And what an extraordinary offer! More on the inscription shortly, but in the meantime, I’ll let our readers/followers know about that Fiddletown offer!


  5. Not had this wine in…forever, probably. My last Fiddletown was the ’77 at about 25 yrs out and it was amazingly good.
    Back in the ’70’s (by crackey), Paul was making Amador Zins from ErnieEsola’s (ShenandoahVlly) and ChetEschen’s (Fiddletown) vnyds. In that era, even SutterHome was making great Amador Zins (KennyDeaver’s vnyd) and Montevina was just starting to make some great Zins. FrankMahoney (CarnerosCreek) also made some terrific Zins from ErnieEsola’s grapes. But most of the Amador Zins were pretty miserable.
    Chet’s vnyd was planted back in the 1860’s, so authentic (very) old-vine Zin. There was a bit of Mission also interplanted in there. Fiddletown is at a slightly higher elevation and a tad cooler than the ShenandoahVlly.
    Paul’s rendition of Fiddletown were easily the best of all the Zins made from that reknowned vnyd. They tended to be a bit less alcoholic than most. And had more structure than most. Amazingly good wines. I think the ’77, the 2’nd of two serious drought yrs, was probably the best he made from those grapes.
    I’ve given Paul a hard time over the yrs for dropping their Amador Zins. There’s plenty of old-vine stuff up there and I’d love to see it happen again. Maybe someday??

  6. Please take a look at my web site ( old tastes- zinfandel – click on the 74 Fiddletown label. I purchased this wine in April of 1976 for $5. I drank it in June of that same year and my comments were very positive. I wish I had a bottle to try now, 33 years later.

    A curious label difference: My label , bottom right ,says “Grapes from Eschen Ranch, Amador County” Your label above says “Mountain grown grapes, Amador County.” Why would these two labels be different?

    • Thanks very much Lonnie! I will definitely go have a look at your site, I can’t wait! And I’ll try and get to the bottom of the label discrepancy asap …



  1. Fiddletown Revisited! -or- Current Tasting Notes: 1974 Ridge Vineyards Fiddletown Zinfandel! « 4488: A Ridge Blog

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